Review: Majors Creek Festival 2019

Mary Maypole-5.jpg

Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography
View our entire photo gallery on Facebook in our Majors Creek Festival Album.

If you’ve never been to a folk music festival, you might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with choices. Across Australia there is everything from mega-festivals of international renown, down to the salt of the earth community run festivals. Last month we had the pleasure of visiting the Majors Creek Festival for the first time, to sample the local folky flavor.

Celebrating more than a quarter of a century, the Majors Creek Festival is an absolute gem, tucked away in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, an hour from Canberra, and 3 hours from Sydney.

The festival venue takes advantage of the local amenities, including the local church, and the showground hall, as well as creating a cosy, welcoming village green peppered with markets, delicious food outlets, circus entertainments and multiple easy to access music stages.

The site was thoughtfully decorated with beautiful styling and simple execution giving a cohesive connectedness across the the venues. With activities and entertainments for the kids at the centre of the field in a big top tent, the adults were treated to a weekend of musical delights across 7 different stages.

Mandy Connell-11Mandy Connell brought her storytelling charm to the St Pete stage along with her tales of home and sentimental reminiscences. With a spring in her step and a flair for performance, her audience were swept away with her lyrical fancies.

Liz Frencham’s cool blues delivered both punchy beats and troubadour solemnity, twining together tales and talk of “community that makes political bullshit fade away”. With the audience singing along and lapping up every tune, the set was a popular choice.

The Perfs were one of the acts on the unofficial stage at St Mary’s, also known as ‘the other church’ a delightful relaxed patio setting framing the delectable harmonies of the duo. Their laid back and enchanting style melded modern and old style in a hypnotic hymn.

Fiona Ross delivered a Capella joy over in the ‘Official’ site Church with a traditional Scottish set, mostly in Gaelic, and predominantly from the East and South. Such beautiful acoustics and with no accompaniment other than the audience themselves, Ross delivered a thorough and rousing collection of toe tapping tunes.

Floyd Thursby also loaned his style to the acoustic setting of the Church, and brought his dulcet mix of French and English to an eager audience. His blend of both allegorical and literal storytelling tunes tells tales of love and woe, humour and humitlity, and takes the audience in a delightful journey.Andy Nelson-5Andy Nelson would be the festival highlight for the team, with a moody, sultry opening to his set, the soft masculine voice of Nelson created an alluring and enchanting scene. His emphatic style along with talented musicians on bass and violin to accompany his guitar, welcomed a hypnotic spellbinging combined sound. By swapping in mandolin, and harmonica to accompany his suite of songs, Nelson delivered a blistering set to the enthusiastic audience.

Great Aunt showcased the their guitar and double bass styling with a moody and strong set, balancing the feminine and sullen atmos. Their style mixed well bringing clever lyrics and knowing wink to the stage.

The New Graces’s gloriously complimentary voices gave lilting, lovely lyrical harmonies. They took turns leading with a great collaborative approach that showcased each individual talent within a cohesive whole.

Holly Arrowsmith excelled in her autobiographical storytelling with an enchanting tonality and crisp quality of both vocals and musicality. Choosing a mix of political folk tunes and her own inviting and enrapturing songs made for a compelling set.

Equus always draws a crowd and never fails to entertain. Their set was uplifting in the chill of dusk, with their fabulous and fascinating throat singing interwoven with traditional singing to spice up the sonic experience. Electric energy filled the air as their music ebbed forward delivering a mix of modern and traditional tracks, catch the audience up, clapping along spiritedly.

 

Shane Nicholson-5Shane Nicholson was one of the big names and drew quite the crowd. The audience were immediately engaged as the familiar refrains of “when The River Runs Dry” peeled across the tent. Accompanied by producer extraordinaire Matt Fell, the dynamic of the duo won everyone over, with Nicholson’s soothing, smooth vocals and subtle, soft harmonies tapping into and creating a warm, welcoming space through song.

The Water Runners kicked off our Sunday, delivering upbeat bluegrass vibes, harmonies, and fun frivolity. Their topical set covered everything from climate change through to lovesick stories, and cautionary tales.

Kelsey Berrington delivered a light and listenable set that captured the audiences spirit. Reminiscent of Kim Churchill and Jack Carty, a refreshing set ensued.

Big Fiddle Little Fiddle does what it says on the box, if you let a Cello be a big fiddle that is. Their fusion of styles started with an almost syncopated vibe, building in to an interesting contrasting set of sounds reminiscent of baroque and country Celtic fiddles in a lighthearted manner.

Parkville-9Parkville oozed youth and vitality with their pop folk fusion winning over hearts and minds of the audience with their lovely blend of up tempo musicality and harmonies. The fiddle is the true hero of the four piece, tying their melodies back in to the folk space while straddling the indie pop genre. Their engagement of the audience, creating a thundery opening to one of their tracks, really made their set shine.

This Way North rounded out the festival, clearly the heros of the festival, and favourites of the audience. Their set roamed from clam and harmonious, through hearty drums and feeling. The duo are highly engaging with great chemistry, entreating the audience to clap and sing along, while accentuating the layered vocals and riveting beat.

All in all, the festival is incredibly family friendly, while maintaining a high quality folk feel. Spread over the weekend, from Friday night to Sunday eve, with their after party occurring just down the road at the Majors Creek Pub, the festival is truly a whole community event.

If you’ve never been to a folk music festival, whether it’s because of kids, or that you want a less cluttered or crowded experience, Majors Creek Festival is an accessible and thoroughly enjoyable experience with a eye for sustainability and great quality music. A great first weekend festival experience.

General Festival-2

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 17th July

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Breaking Hart Benton’s Michael David Thomas has gone solo with his new single and video “There Must Be Something Else”. Details here

– Sibling duo The Acfields released their new video “The Years” and announced an East Coast tour. Details here

– The July Bluegrass @ Yulli’s jam night in Sydney is next week and features Catgut. Details here

– Afro-klezmer party band Fat Yahoozah released their brand new album I Don’t Care this week and we’re streaming it. Details here

– Sydney indie-folk night Little Features announced their July lineup including Jon Cotton, Baby Lips and The Silhouettes, Eddie Boyd & The Phatapillars and Make Like a Tree. Details here

Katie Noonan announced details of her new album Transmutant along with a national tour. Details here

– Katherine based singer Broadwing took out the NT Song Of The Year award with his folky track “Pockets”. Details here

– Sydney’s Citizen of the World released their awesome new clip “How Far We’ve Come”. Details here

– The next Country and Inner Western night in Sydney takes place on the 29th July and features The Green Mohair Suits, Caitlin Harnett and William Crighton. Details here

– We streamed Bronte‘s new track “My Word” ahead of his EP launch next week. Details here

– NZ based singer-songwriter Holly Arrowsmith released her new single “Desert Owl”. Details here

– This weekend’s Finders Keepers Markets in Melbourne will feature some fine folky music from Ayleen O’Hanlon, Danika Smith, Pepperjack, Brooke Russell, Forrest Falls and many more. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Toby Graham released his new single “Song”. Details here

– Sydney has a new regular Americana night, the Heartbreaker Sessions, the first of which will feature Caitlin Harnett and Brielle Davis. Details here

– Melbourne bluegrass gypsies The Scrimshaw Four have announced an August residency at The Workers Club. Details here

– A full eight months out the first round of artists for Bluesfest 2016 have been announced. Details here

– American singer Nathan Fox released his new single “Falling In Love”. Details here

Releases This Week

Fat Yahoozah
​I Don’t CareFat Yahoozah
Bandcamp

Jason Isbell
Something More Than FreeJason Isbell
iTunes

Wilco
Star WarsWilco
Official Site

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s feat. Catgut

Catgut

Our favourite bluegrass jam and show night, Bluegrass @ Yulli’s, has come around again and this month they’re showcasing local favourites Catgut. Grab your fiddle/mando/banjo/guitar/vocal chords and come on down!

Wednesday 22nd July – Yulli’s, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s feat. Catgut
Wednesday 22nd July – Yulli’s, Sydney, NSW

Bronte
Friday 24th July – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Davey Craddock
Tuesday 21st July – The Yarra, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 24th July – Perfect Drop, Daylesford, VIC

Finders Keepers Markets Melbourne
Friday 17th to Sunday 19th July – The Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, VIC

Fraser A. Gorman
Friday 17th July – Gasometer, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 24th July – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC

Helen Shanahan
Friday 17th July – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

HOWQUA
Friday 17th July – Solbar (Front Bar), Maroochydore, QLD
Sunday 19th July – Flow Restaurant, Old Bar, NSW

Jenny Lewis
Sunday 19th July – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 22nd July – Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 23rd July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th July – Splendour in the Grass, NSW

Katie Noonan
Friday 24th July – Camelot, Sydney, NSW

Lacey Cole & the Lazy Colts
Thursday 23rd July – Moonshine Cider and Rum Bar, Manly, NSW

Of Monsters and Men
Tuesday 21st July – The Forum, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 22nd July – State Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th July – Splendour in the Grass, NSW

Owen Campbell
Friday 17th July – Commercial Hotel, Milton, NSW
Saturday 18th July – Club Jervis, Jervis Bay, NSW
Sunday 19th July – Towradgi Beach Hotel, Towradgi, NSW

Ryan Adams w/ Jenny Lewis
Sunday 19th July – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Monday 20th July – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Tuesday 21st July – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 23rd July – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th July – Splendour in the Grass, NSW

Splendour in the Grass
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th July – North Byron Parklands, NSW

The Acfields
Thursday 23rd July – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 24th July – House Concert, Lismore, NSW

Toby Graham
Wednesday 22nd July – The Toff in Town, Melbourne, VIC

Tom Stephens
Friday 17th July – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 18th July – Bar Oussou, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 19th July – Open Studio, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 24th July – The Bridge Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Packing Blankets” – The Eels

I heard the original, acoustic version of this track playing in a pub the other day and I was transported back to hearing this for the first time in 2000. This version is a bit more rock and country than the original but I love the escapism of the song.

Listen to Holly Arrowsmith’s Single “Desert Owl”

Holly Arrowsmith
Image Courtesy of Holly Arrowsmith

Holly Arrowsmith is an alt-country/folk singer originally from New Mexico but currently based out of Auckland in New Zealand. Acclaimed in New Zealand, Arrowsmith is starting to turn some heads across the Tasman as well.

Her new single is “Desert Owl” which has a really cool Neil Young and Laura Marling vibe to it. We think you’re really going to enjoy this:

“Desert Owl” is taken from Holly Arrowsmith’s upcoming album For The Weary Traveller which is due on the 31t July.

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